Barbarian Frenzy/Thorns Build with the Legacy of Nightmares set (Patch 2.5 / Season 10)
Table of Contents
- 1. About the Author
- 2. Video Guide
- 3. Builds
- 4. Rotation
- 5. Skills, Runes and Passives
- 6. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives
- 7. Paragon Points
- 8. Gems
- 9. Kanai's Cube
- 10. Follower
- 11. ChangeLog
The Thorns Frenzy build arose from the 2.4 rework to the Legacy of Nightmares set, along with the 2.4.1 buffs to Barbarian Thorns capabilities. The end result is a highly mobile, single target assassination spec that takes the best of the melee and damage reflection playstyles. The build is available in both solo progression and speedfarming variations, explained in that order.
The build requires the following set pieces:
1. About the Author
This build is presented to you by Deadset, one of the very few professional Diablo 3 players. Deadset regularly publishes video guides on Youtube, where you can see how this and other builds play out in practice.
2. Video Guide
The following video guide was created to accompany the present written guide and demonstrate how to play the build in-game.
|Frenzy Maniac Furious Charge Merciless Assault 1 Ignore Pain Iron Hide 2 Threatening Shout Falter 3 War Cry Veteran's Warning 4 Wrath of the Berserker Insanity|
|Frenzy Vanguard Furious Charge Merciless Assault 1 Battle Rage Ferocity 2 Sprint Marathon 3 War Cry Veteran's Warning 4 Wrath of the Berserker Insanity|
The playstyle of the build focuses heavily on seeking out and assassinating priority targets like elites and champion packs, skipping even substantial groups of small enemies due to its lacking AoE damage. This mobility is achieved largely through the combination of Illusory Boots and Furious Charge, and you should aim to reset the cooldown of the latter by charging multiple enemies and taking advantage of the Merciless Assault effect. Once you find a suitable target — the aforementioned elites — debuff it with Threatening Shout Falter and start mowing it down with Frenzy. Ideally you will have the Wrath of the Berserker steroid available for any significant fight. Lastly, apply Ignore Pain on cooldown (achieving its permanent uptime through gear and stat rolls) and refresh War Cry as often as you need to maintain its Toughness buff.
5. Skills, Runes and Passives
Similarly to an Invoker Thorns Crusader, you will be applying your Thorns damage through a primary attack; unlike the Crusader spec, you do not require a set bonus to skyrocket your attack speed — Oathkeeper will take care of that. Your primary concern will be to apply attacks as quickly as possible, and no other Barbarian primary does that better than Frenzy and its attack speed stacking mechanic, further enhanced by the cubed Bastion's Revered. The preferred rune for progression is Maniac for its additive increase to your overall damage, while in speedruns it is advisable to switch to the movespeed-oriented Vanguard.
As previously mentioned in the gameplay overview, Furious Charge is included in the build strictly for mobility purposes; allowing you to skip trash packs in search for higher impact enemies to fight. Despite your high cooldown reduction on gear, it is still advisable to take the rune Merciless Assault for its reset mechanic, and aiming to hit at least 2-3 enemies to always have a Furious Charge available.
The remainder of your active skills are split into two rough categories — damage increasing and damage reducing buffs.
The first category includes Threatening Shout Falter and Wrath of the Berserker Insanity. The default defensive role of Threatening Shout is flipped into a 25% additive damage buff against affected enemies in a 25-yard radius, perfectly suitable to a melee spec like the Frenzy Barb. With its generous 6-second duration and the focus of the spec into Cooldown Reduction, you will easily achieve permanent uptime of the buff. Sporting significantly less uptime — around 60% even in highly optimized gear setups — Wrath of the Berserker is nevertheless included for the incomparable stat buffs it provides, along with the humongous damage increase of the Insanity rune. In general, limit the use of this skill to elite engagements; ideally, activate it the moment you reach a Physical cycle of the cubed Convention of Elements, as this will result in two full Physical cycles of the ring while under the effect of Wrath of the Berserker Insanity.
The second category consists of the survivability staples War Cry and Ignore Pain. War Cry is a bread-and-butter background buff, increasing your Toughness the most by balancing your high Armor and All Resist with a smattering of Dodge chance from the Veteran's Warning rune. The buff duration long exceeds its modest cooldown, so do not be lulled and let it fall off — it costs nothing to reapply it at regular intervals. In speedruns, War Cry will also add to your (and your group's) movement speed via a worn Chilanik's Chain. In progression however, you will be wearing Pride of Cassius — and for a good reason; Ignore Pain will be the basis of your survivability by cutting incoming damage in half and making you immune to crowd control. Permanent uptime of Ignore Pain is crucial, so the general recommendation is the long-lasting Iron Hide rune, as it demands the least from your gear with its 57% CDR breakpoint. Once fully optimized and past the 63% barrier, you can swap to any rune you fancy — the group-oriented Mob Rule, the speed boosting Bravado, or the burst heal of Contempt for Weakness.
As far as active skill alterations for speedfarming go, you will keep War Cry for its movespeed benefits coming from a swap to Chilanik's Chain as your belt, and you will maintain Wrath of the Berserker Insanity for its huge overall presence. Ignore Pain and Threatening Shout will step down however, replaced by two pure movement speed utility skills: Battle Rage Ferocity and Sprint Marathon.
This concludes the overview of the active skills, now let us look through the passives.
The Barbarian answer to Crusader's Iron Maiden, Tough as Nails doubles your Thorns damage — a natural inclusion to a Thorns-based setup. Its Toughness angle is not to be underestimated either, as it boosts your Armor by 25%.
Lacking the Wrath of the Berserker-resetting powers of the Immortal King set, the Frenzy Thorns Barb employs other tactics to lower this crucial cooldown — the inclusion of Boon of Bul-Kathos plays a major part, shaving 30 seconds off the standard 2-minute cooldown.
In a spec that runs no spenders and plenty of generators, including a primary skill and several cooldowns, Berserker Rage has a virtually permanent uptime, and provides a substantial 25% damage increase.
You have a degree of freedom when picking out your final passive slot. A general recommendation is to take Nerves of Steel, the Barbarian version of the standard cheat death passive. As a melee spec that tackles sources of damage spikes (Electrified, Fire Chains) on a regular basis, a fail safe on a 60-second cooldown is never a bad choice. If you feel your toughness is optimized and your life is not threatened, Ruthless is one of the best damage-oriented choices you have available; it highlights the build's single target strengths by increasing your damage multiplicatively by 40% during the last third of your enemies' health. Ideally you will not have to choose between Nerves of Steel and Ruthless, as you will take one of them on a Hellfire Amulet. Lastly, you should consider taking Pound of Flesh in speedruns for its 20% additional movement speed at 5 health globe stacks, a bonus that is trivial to refresh with its generous 15 second duration and a cubed Avarice Band.
6. Best in Slot Gear and Alternatives
As a rule of thumb, Cooldown Reduction is the third primary alongside Strength and Toughness stats that is vital to balance into your gear, as your survivability and damage buffs are all cooldown-reliant. With the full 6-seconds extension on Pride of Cassius, the lowest breakpoint for permanent Ignore Pain Iron Hide is 57%. Pushed further to 63%, you will have permanent uptime on all Ignore Pain runes. Another important primary stat to factor in is Attack Speed, as Thorns application is directly tied to the speed of your Frenzy attacks. It is generally recommended to reach at least 1.84 sheet Attacks per Second prior to any buffs (3 maximized Attack Speed rolls on gear plus Paragons), as this will result in the respectable 7 frame Frenzy animation breakpoint when fully buffed. As this is a Legacy of Nightmares set spec, you have considerable freedom in picking out the rest of your gear slots. As a rule of thumb, focus on Thorns and remember the rings' requirements for ancient items, as well as their restriction on other set bonuses. You can run individual set pieces with beneficial stats, as long as they do not form any set bonus.
The Legacy of Nightmares set is a 2.4 rework, allowing you to run any legendary item combination while not losing out on the damage amplification and reduction associated with the traditional 6-piece sets. As long as the two rings — The Wailing Host and Litany of the Undaunted — are the only active set bonus you have equipped, every Ancient item will increase your damage dealt by 100% and reduce damage taken by 4%. In the stats, try to obtain a combination of Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed.
Rounding out the jewelry, the neck slot is best taken by a Hellfire Amulet — allowing you a free fifth passive slot to take either Nerves of Steel or Ruthless with. Other protective amulets — any of the immunity necklaces or Eye of Etlich — can also be slotted, but their niche defenses are inferior to the universal effectiveness of the Hellfire Amulet.
Your helm is best taken by a Leoric's Crown — this helm doubles the effectiveness of its slotted gem, becoming the single most powerful source of cooldown reduction offered by a legendary item — 25% with a Flawless Royal Diamond. A notable alternative for the slot can be a well-rolled Andariel's Visage with Physical elemental damage, necessitating that you cube Leoric's Crown and restrict yourself to just one of the synergistic legendary bracers discussed further.
Two protective items in the chest and belt slots provide the bulk of your defenses during progression. Aquila Cuirass will halve incoming damage as long as Fury does not dip below 90% of its reserve, which is effectively a permanent bonus in this pure generator spec. Being able to disregard your roll on the unique affix range is a great boon, as Thorns is not an inherent roll in the secondaries, making stats harder to perfect. The unique affix makes a world of difference on Pride of Cassius however, and you should seek out the longest 6 second extension of Ignore Pain to reach permanent uptime of your key survival cooldown more easily. In speedfarm, and especially when grouped up, consider swapping into Chilanik's Chain for its excellent increase of party movement speed.
St. Archew's Gage are the recommended gloves for the build; previously a support spec staple, they enjoy a rampant growth in popularity due to the Legacy of Nightmares set and their own powerful property. Shielding you with an absorption field that more than doubles your maximum health, St. Archew's Gage offers a temporary defensive edge when engaging an elite — often enough time for this assassin playstyle to whittle the enemy down.
Any legendary pants with the appropriate stats (high Toughness and secondary Thorns) can fill the legs slot, but if you seek to hyper-optimize your build, you should seek out or gamble on Swamp Land Waders with a Witch Doctor alt. After that, go back to your Barbarian and reroll the natural Intelligence of the item into Strength at the Mystic. The WD-specific affix will naturally go to waste, but the Swamp Land Waders are able to roll Physical elemental damage as a fifth stat, which Thorns damage benefits from. A lucky roll can even include Thorns in its secondaries, making these pants highly desirable.
When played correctly, few affixes can catch you as you Furious Charge your way around combat; even more so if you take advantage of the Act II cache legendary Illusory Boots, which make you immune to getting cornered, regardless of density and monster speed. Another option for the slot are Ice Climbers, which will not only remove two deadly sources of crowd control, but also reduce cold damage as a whole.
Bracer legendary affixes will be important not only in the worn equipment, but the armor slot in the Cube as well. Several bracer combos are considered viable for the setup, the easiest being worn Sanguinary Vambraces and cubed Vambraces of Sescheron. Sanguinary Vambraces are easiest to perfect because they are a farmable, common Act 1 bounty cache legendary with a natural Thorns roll and decent, fixed value damage proc. Early on in character progression, you should pair them with Vambraces of Sescheron in the cube, for the percentage-based healing affix — an easy source of sustain. Once you perfect your gear to include at least two Life per Hit rolls, you can safely transition to cubing Nemesis Bracers for the additional elites, playing into the strengths of the build.
Truly deprived of a recommended legendary for the slot, the shoulders can be taken by your best rolled ancient item. Minor benefits can be found from options such as Death Watch Mantle and Pauldrons of the Skeleton King, but they cannot be considered a necessity by any means.
Your weapon and offhand slots will be split between Thorns and Frenzy synergy. On the Thorns side, you will be using the dedicated Hack axe; its unique property applies up to 100% of your Thorns damage to every attack, properly benefiting from all sources of bonus damage as of Patch 2.4.1. On the generator front, you will be wielding Oathkeeper — its damage-increasing component will be neglected, but the Attack Speed increase to Frenzy is vital. Rolls-wise, remember that Thorns specs do not take Weapon Damage into account, and both your weapons will be pure stat sticks that need Strength, Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed; then, their damage range ideally gets rerolled into Life per Hit (or one of the missing aforementioned stats).
7. Paragon Points
Bane of the Trapped is a potent source of additional damage, as it is its own multiplier in your total damage calculation. The gem procs itself with its level 25 property when in melee range, making it an excellent companion to this Frenzy-centric build.
Added in Patch 2.4, Boyarsky's Chip fulfills a simple and straightforward purpose: increasing your Thorns damage. Its taunting level 25 property is just added value on top, making it easy to stick elites close to this assassin type build.
Introduced in Season 4, Bane of the Stricken occupies the third and final jewelry socket. Building up your damage multiplicatively in prolonged fights and with a level 25 bonus specifically targeting Rift Guardians, this gem is designed to assist during the takedown of the biggest bottleneck in GRs, the scaling HP numbers. In normal rifts, this gem slot should be taken by Boon of the Hoarder. This high utility gem feeds you practically infinite gold and gives you a massive short-term speed boost while picking up gold, automated by a cubed Avarice Band.
|Torso and Pants|
9. Kanai's Cube
Tucked away in the cube, Bastion's Revered offers a key legendary effect for the build — the extension of Frenzy stacks from 5 to 10. The result is a whopping 150% increase to Frenzy attack speed at cap, as well as a 25% damage buff from Maniac in GR pushes, or 50% additional movespeed from Vanguard when speedfarming.
As previously discussed on the topic of bracers, you can cube Vambraces of Sescheron early on for an easy source of sustain, or speed up your rift clear times with Nemesis Bracers once you include enough Life per Hit on gear. A third alternative is to cube Leoric's Crown, if you have stumbled upon a well-rolled Physical Andariel's Visage to wear. Finally, if you struggle with survivability in high Torments, you can complement your Boon of the Hoarder and Avarice Band with a cubed Goldwrap — its legendary power skyrockets your Toughness as you acquire gold.
The jewelry slot in the cube is best taken by Convention of Elements, whose rotation is key in maximizing the burst potential of the spec. Matching your Wrath of the Berserker activations with the beginning of a CoE Physical cycle will allow you two full cycles at your best offensive potential, adding an impactful timing element to an otherwise simple playstyle. When speedfarming, use the Act III cache legendary ring Avarice Band. Its unique property extends your pickup radius up to the massive 30 yards for a generous 10 second period. Triggered, maximized and constantly refreshed from the endless stream of Boon of the Hoarder gold, the ring and the gem will keep you sped up throughout the rift.
For more information regarding followers, we advise you to read our Follower Guide, which contains detailed advice for choosing the skills and the gear of your follower.
11. ChangeLog+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
- 28 Mar. 2017: Minor fixes to skill selection, item preferences and general wording.
- 05 Jan. 2017: No changes needed for Season 9.
- 21 Oct. 2016: No changes needed for Season 8.
- 26 Jul. 2016: Updated the guide for Patch 2.4.2 and included variations for both high GRs and speedruns.
- 16 May 2016: Added video. Added gem and cube options for speedruns. Fixed a few typos.
- 14 May 2016: Build added.
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